Most Useful Visual Studio 2008 Keyboard Shortcuts

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I have started my career as a programmer learning (and loving) the Emacs editor; later I used for quite some time the VI editor on a remote server. It’s no wonder that I have become accustomed to use keyboard shortcuts extensively while editing my programs. Luckily, Visual Studio 2008 IDE that I now use on a daily basis comes with its own set of keyboard shortcuts that can make my programming hours more pleasant and productive.

My Favorite Shortcuts

I have tried to collect here the shortcuts I use dozens of times everyday.

I don’t fancy regions too much (I tend to prefer classes with few and short methods, so whenever I feel like I’d need regions to me that is a code smell); that’s why you won’t find them listed here. I also usually don’t care about shortcuts to handle files (new / open, etc…)  and adding items to a project, since I am usually quicker using the mouse there. But without further ado, her comes the list.

CTRL + K, C Comment selection
CTRL + K, U Uncomment selection
CTRL + K, D Format document (according to the rules you have specified in Tools-Options->…)
CTRL + K, F Format selection (according to the rules you have specified in Tools-Options->…)
CTRL + I Incremental search (Emacs-like search)
CTRL + TAB Cycle through the IDE windows
F12 Go to definition of symbol (class / interface / etc…)
SHIFT + F12 Find all references to this symbol (class / interface / etc…)
TAB Insert the corresponding snippet
CTRL + ] Move to the matching brace (for some reason this does not work when I use an Italian mapping for the keyboard)
CTRL + - Move back to previous editing point(s).
F6 Build solution
SHIFT + F6 Build project
F5 Start debugger / Go to next breakpoint
SHIFT + F5 Quit debugger
F10 Debugger step over
F11 Debugger step in
SHIFT + F11 Debugger step out
CTRL + F10 Run to cursor
F9 Toggle breakpoint

Microsoft has a nice poster with the complete list of Visual Studio 2008 C# shortcuts. There are other shortcuts that I routinely use that are related to VS plug-ins (e.g. GhostDoc), but that is the topic for  another post.

Wish List

There are a few shortcuts that I’d love to have readily available in Visual Studio:

  • join a line with the previous (J in VI)
  • create an inline comment. That is, move the cursor to a specific column and insert a ‘//’ to start a new comment. (M-; in Emacs)
  • format (wrap) multiline comments (M-q in Emacs)
  • center screen at current line (CTRL+l in Emacs)
  • an interactive replace mechanism (M-% in Emacs)


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